Grabowski: The Slide

October 25th, 2014

When our 18-month-old daughter’s voice woke us up through the monitor early one Saturday morning, I told my wife to keep sleeping.

I went downstairs and gave Cora the regular: a warmed-up bottle of organic whole milk and a small bowl of Cheerios. I also lined up a handful of red raspberries on the plastic tray, which she picked up one at a time, placing the open end on her finger and eating it.

While still chewing on a mouthful, she demanded that I lift her out of the high chair.

Darting for the stroller, she raised her hands in the air and exclaimed excitedly “Up. Up. Up.”

She never did this during the week when we had to rush to daycare, so she must have figured out what a weekend felt like.

It was a pleasant and sunny summer day, so I honored her request and we went for a walk.

girlonslideWhee!

 

Rather thank take our normal route to the park to look at the geese and ducks swimming in the pond, we instead headed to a school playground where we had never been before.

I lifted her up onto one of the slides and guided her down with my hands under her armpits like we usually did.

After a few times, I let her try it on her own.

“Come on down…..slide your butt out to the edge……keep coming,” I encouraged her as I squatted at the bottom ready to catch her.

She sat still for an entire minute, looking deep into space with her trademark blank stare. Maybe she was building up the courage to try something new. Or maybe she just needed a mental break from the intensity of the play.

Finally breaking her gaze, she fashioned an unsure, half-smile, and slid down.

She giggled and had the most genuine and widest smile I had ever seen.

Then I showed her how to climb the stairs to the top of the slide so she could continue the fun on her own. She made this loop about 20 more times, each time having the reaction as if it was the first.

Now just the mention of a slide brings an excited smile to her face, and actually going to the park to go down one adds a giggle.

 

Editor’s Note: Grabowski‘s last post for The Third City was Yoga Man

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Chris Lamberti: Root, Root, Root for…Chaos!

October 22nd, 2014

It kind of snuck up on us because months ago we tuned out our baseball teams, which stunk like Hack Wilson’s rotten corpse. And maybe pitching and hitting with great effectiveness is a concept so foreign to us as Sox and Cubs fans as to render playoff baseball indecipherable. But ready or not Chicago, it’s time for the World Series!

In one dugout for this year’s Fall Classic will be the NL wild card-winning San Francisco Giants. I would caution Cubs and Sox management not to try to replicate the success of the Giants, who have lost players accounting for more than $40 million in payroll this year due to injury or suckage (lookin’ at you, Tim Lincecum) and somehow still find themselves in the World Series.

Baseball experts attribute much of the Giants’ success to manager Bruce Bochy, whose baseball lobe portion of the brain is freakishly large, scientists are sure to discover in a space-age cryogenic autopsy someday. But the Giants also have one of the game’s most valuable players in catcher Buster Posey, who one day DNA experts will find has the extremely rare hall-of-fame-if-he-doesn’t-fail-a-PED-test gene.

Across the diamond will be the AL wild card-winning Kansas City Royals, who’ll get no sympathy from Cubs fans for seeking their first MLB championship since 1985. Bucking conventional sabermetric-wisdom by bunting and stealing a lot, the Royals start playing for one run as soon as they get off the bus. Manager Ned Yost also strangely bats his best hitter, Alex Gordon, down in the lineup. There is nothing enigmatic about the Royals defense and bullpen though, which are pretty nifty.

ozzieguillen

Remember when Ozzie had the Sox in the Series?

 

It’s difficult for me—a White Sox fan in the age of the unbalanced schedule—to cheer for a division rival who I actively root against 19 times a season. It’s an exhausting mental adjustment I lack the strength to make. At the same time, as a futility-enduring Chicago baseball fan, it’s hard for me not to openly resent the Giants, a team playing in its third World Series in the past 5 years.

I’m even turned off by the names: Royals and Giants. Which is the team for the common man or woman? You know, the non-aristocrat of average physical stature?

Ownership does nothing to confute elitist imagery. Giants owner Charles Bartlett Johnson is a billionaire mutual fund man who spent a whole bunch of money opposing a tax increase for the wealthy in California, proposed to help pay for public colleges. Then Johnson turned around and donated $250 million to his poor, deprived alma mater, Yale University!

David Glass got rich as the CEO of Walmart, a corporation that trades in shares of unmitigated evil. He took some of the cash accumulated by paying U.S. workers food-stamp wages and by not doing anything about labor conditions in Asian sweatshops, and bought the Kansas City Royals! Hurrah!

mogrannabandit

We all miss Morganna, the kissing bandit!

 

Of course, it’s unfair to judge a baseball team by its ownership. Because everyone knows that sports team owners are about the lowest form of humanity. Just consider the owners in this town. One made his fortune exploiting real estate tax loopholes and gets millions in public subsidies every year and the other was handed a trust fund by his billionaire father but couldn’t find the money for health insurance for the team grounds crew.

Oh the depravity. And what to do? We’re nothing but the grounds crew in the baseball game of life.

And the World Series, like life, sometimes feels like a forgone conclusion: the unlikely hero is a foregone conclusion; the unfortunate goat is a forgone conclusion; Joe Buck is a foregone conclusion; another celebration by another non-Chicago team is a foregone conclusion.

In these situations, I default to the position taken by my friend and White Sox blogger James Fegan: Root for chaos. How about a good old-fashioned ninth-inning streaker? Or bring back Morganna the Kissing Bandit. Or the Fan Man who parachuted in on Holyfield vs Bowe II.

I’m rooting for the breaking of a new baseball doping scandal this week. This time exposing PED-kingpin Bud Selig, who has been leading a public campaign against steroids only to eliminate the competition and consolidate business for himself!

Or I’ll cheer for a minor health scare. Nothing serious. Like Bruce Bochy collapsing in the dugout from what we think is a heart attack only to find out it’s indigestion from stuffing himself full of Kansas City barbecue before the game.

In other words, I’m rooting for anything to shake us from the doldrums of the baseball mundane.

But wait a second, we already have some chaos.

The new playoff system with two additional wild card teams and a one game playoff was supposed to provide a definitive advantage to baseball’s division winners. Yet here we are with the unlikeliest of World Series opponents—two wild card winners that failed to win 90 games during the regular season and were predicted to lose most or all of six other playoff matchups along the way…

Hurray! Chaos is here! Chaos is winning!

It feels good to root for a winner for a change.

 

Editor’s Note: Chris‘ last post for The Third City was Here’s to Paulie

 

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Jim Siergey: Growlin’ Willie Fox

October 19th, 2014

This coming Friday will mark ten years since Chicago lost one of its unique but little known (make that “cult”) musical figures.

“Growlin’” Willie Fox was a popular musical entity on the city’s west side, belting out his personalized brand of rhythm and blues in neighborhood taverns during the late 1950s. The massive man cut quite an imposing figure, squeezing his six foot four inch, three hundred and some pound frame onto stages and what served as stages in the watering holes of some of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods.

Once he did, the place was his.

Mr. Fox played a mean electric guitar, a black Telecaster that he called “Ophelia”. He plugged in and played loud and hard. The volume did not come close to drowning out his powerful, leather-lunged voice. His threatening growl was described as a cross between a freight train carrying carloads of cows in heat and a runaway chainsaw. The man lit up the joints he played in with his thunderous guitar style and his bawdy, boisterous lyrics.

Mr. Fox wrote and played songs the same way he lived— loud and tough. There was no backing down in his lyrics and a pugnaciousness in his guitar playing. He played like he was in a life and death knife fight in a rat-infested alley on the twelfth of never.

jimsiergeywillie
Mr. Fox’s guitar (by Jim Siergey)…

 

He cut a couple of records with an independent label, “Poontang Platters,” that achieved a modicum of popularity. “Bad Ass Boogie” was three minutes and forty seven seconds of bad-to-the-bone, razor sharp guitar licks accompanied by a loping, not a care in the world bass line and machine gun drumming from his long-time collaborater, Stevie “Sticks” Drummond. The other was “Wha’d You Say?” — a song that was not, as one might think, a rebuttal to the Ray Charles hit but, instead, a throaty, threatening beginning of a bar fight.

Willie’s songs were as hard-edged as himself and the neighborhoods he grew up in as well as the saloons in which he played. However, one of his mellower tunes, a plaintive bluesy number, was a crowd favorite. “Last Call Always Lands Me in Lock-up” never failed to bring a soft smile to one’s lips and a tear to one’s eye.

His most popular song, however, was “Hey, Motherfucker!” — a real crowd pleaser that always got the joint jumping. Sometimes that song itself with its call and response refrain would last for a complete set.

The circumstances of Mr. Fox’s death are still a mystery. Legend has it that it included a hooker, a case of Canadian Mist whiskey and a side of beef. We can only hope that that’s true. It’s the way Willie would’ve wanted to go out.

Hey, Motherfucker! Rest in piece.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Oh, Possums

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Matt Farmer: Rahm’s Ebola Cameras

October 19th, 2014

The people wanted more tweets from Chairman Matt, so here they are…

 

Mayoral aide dismisses poll showing Rahm is less popular than rush-hour traffic on I-290; notes Rahm still has higher favorables than Ebola.

Mayor Emanuel to announce locations for city’s first 35 Ebola cameras.

DEVELOPING: Alderman Burke to ask City Council to require O’Hare passengers to store their Ebola viruses in 3-ounce travel containers.

Now that it’s back in the game, will @CSTeditorials endorse Michael Ferro to deliver the 1st annual Carhartt Lecture at Payton College Prep?

Pharaoh Ferro to @CSTeditorials: So let it be written, so let it be done.

Rauner to raise $1 million for his campaign by attending his $1 million-a-bag brown bag lunch event wherever he opts to eat lunch tomorrow.

Rauner admits it was a mistake to release tax returns but no schedules; now says Saturday schedule includes dove hunting and Harley riding.

A CIA official said a woman calling herself “Nursing Home Resident 27″ released a video today in which she claims to endorse Bruce Rauner.

Unmoved by the #chicagofirefestival, Bruce Rauner asks Arne to secure a spot for his daughter in a 2015 reenactment of the 1968 D.C. riots.

Ed Burke is livid that UNO got $98 million in taxpayer funds — correction — that the #chicagofirefestival got $350,000 in taxpayer funds.

Mayor Emanuel touts “on-track numbers” for #ChicagoFireFestival, saying 23% of the floating structures are now expected to ignite by 2018.

DEVELOPING: Rahm Emanuel to announce that the #ChicagoFireFestival will be “repurposed as a wall-to-wall I.B. festival” in 2015.

Rahm/Redmoon to recreate Arne’s 2007 turnaround of Marshall H.S., after which Marshall rose from ashes to be turned around again in 2010.

Mayor Emanuel surprises Dyett High School students with personal appearance to announce his new “One Online Gym Class, One Chicago” program.

Kim Jong-un now says he’ll run Sunday’s @chimarathon and plans to target the unofficial 1:27 time Kim Jong-il posted in Boston back in 1997.

How does the drone-happy winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize explain his award to his two daughters, who surely know a lot about Malala?

Or maybe I spoke with @arneduncan about @davemckinney123 and called Michael Ferro about getting my kid into Walter Payton College Prep?

 

Editor’s Note: Matt‘s last post for The Third City was On Rauner

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Jim Siergey: Oh, Possums!

October 12th, 2014

According to Wikipedia, opossums make up the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. They are also commonly called possums, although that term technically refers to Australian animals of the suborder Phalangeriformes.

So, is it because of the Aussies that we here in America had to add that useless ‘o’ at the beginning? The British pronounce the ‘o’ but they also pronounce other words, such as ‘schedule’ and ‘aluminum’ rather queerly so I wouldn’t put much stock in that.

We here in ‘Merica call ‘em possums and that’s that. Ugly critters they is too. In fact, I think they are the ugliest creatures I have ever seen —and I’ve been to a Wal-Mart. (HA!) However, there are some souls out there who think possums are cute.

Different strokes for different folks, especially the deranged ones.

Possums, as most city dwellers have discovered, have infiltrated our barriers of asphalt, concrete and brick and have taken up residence. I know there are no more forests but are there no workhouses? Oops, sorry. I slipped into my Scrooge persona there for a sec.

Because of this urban infiltration, I have, in recent years, had several encounters with these pink-nosed, beady-eyed, rat-tailed furballs of gray and none of them have been anywhere near enchanting.

Once, coming home late at night via the rear entrance, I espied a hulking shape by my back door. Even as I neared, it wouldn’t budge. It was too big to be a cat and too quiet to be a dog. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see it was a possum. The durn thing hissed at me. It wasn’t going to let me pass. Fortunately, a broom was nearby and after several threatening swings it moved aside and with quaking hands I was able to unlock my back door and enter the safety of my home without incident.

But, I’m just getting started.

One Fall day, I went to clean up the leaves that had gathered in my gangway. Armed with my broom (apparently, my tool of choice) and plastic bag, I proceeded to sweep up the brown crunchy tree departings but I had the eerie feeling that I was being watched. I looked up and there on the other side of my sunken gangway was a possum, staring at me.

I looked at it and thought it would merely hop onto the gate behind it and go away. After all, creatures are more afraid of us than we are of them, right? Wrong. It wasn’t moving. Poised in a possible attack mode, it stood there, seeming to seethe with bloodthirst.

pogosiergey

Pogo, the great!

 

I eyeballed my surroundings. In the city, houses are so close to one another, a claustrophobe could get the vapors in one of these narrow gangways which meant there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat, much less a broom or a possum .

I decided to clean the area another day.

I used to have neighbors that housed a bunch of feral cats. I guess they didn’t really house them since they were always outside but they fed them and the cats called their place “home”. I mention this only because I suspect it was these feral cats that left an eviscerated possum lying in my afore-mentioned gangway.

I spotted it, proclaimed disgust and beat a hasty retreat into the sanctity of my home. However, I knew I couldn’t hide in there forever because no one else was going to clean up those possum remains. That distasteful chore was to fall upon me.

I hate having to dispose of dead things, like the little birds that occasionally fly into my window and bash their tiny brains out. Even flushing a goldfish gives me the willies. But I girded my loins and armed with a shovel, a plastic bag and a cardboard box, I hesitantly strode to the gangway and the awaiting carcass.

In order to get a better shoveling angle, I gingerly stepped over the gutless marsupial, ready to leap away at any moment in case it mysteriously rose from the dead. I draped the plastic bag over it so I wouldn’t have to look at the icky thing and in a very manly manner, a la Richard Simmons, I scooped it up with my shovel and transferred it to the box. With the shovel, I closed the flaps as best I could, then picked it up and holding it at arms length from my body, trotted like a waitress with a tray full of Brandy Alexanders to the alley where I deposited the encased cadaver into a garbage can.

Alas, that was not my last encounter with a non-living possum. On another occasion, I traipsed out my back door and there in my yard was a possum lying on its side. I am relieved to say that it was not eviscerated. It was a whole, fully intact possum. But, it was just lying there on its side.

I thought to myself that perhaps it was just “playing possum”. I’d heard that they do that, hence the phrase. So I went on my way, hoping that upon my return, it would be gone.

It was not.

I looked at the thing. It looked fine. There were no attack marks. I yelled at it. I clapped my hands. There was no reaction from the creature. I even went so far as to poke it with a stick. It seemed to be in an actual state of demise. Perhaps it had a heart attack or was poisoned. All I knew was that it was shovelin’ time again.

Possums. Why can’t they be more like Pogo?

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Let Keydom Fling

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Jim Siergey: Let Keydom Fling

October 5th, 2014

I recently piloted a spaceship.

I’d like to say that I felt like Captain Kirk but, in truth, I felt more like Jerry Lewis.

As you can expect, it wasn’t really a spaceship, it just felt like one to me. It was a rental car, a 2015 Chrysler 200. Pretty snappy name, eh? I guess the car manufacturers have run out of words so they are now resorting to naming their vehicles with numbers. Very Patrick McGoohanish.

I refer to it as a spaceship because it was keyless. All push buttons. With foot on brake, one pushes an ignition button and it starts up. Changing gears is a procedure right out of FLASH GORDON. Like Doctor Zarkov, one twists and turns a dial. Unfortunately, that dial is located right below the climate control dial. In trying to move from Park to Drive or Reverse, I kept finding myself cranking up the A/C.

Ironically, there’s no dial for the radio—only push buttons.

Being a rental, there was no manual for this car that was a touch too futuristic for my comfort level. To discover its various functions one had to experiment by pushing buttons or twisting dials. Fortunately, there was no ejector seat.

captainkirk

My man!

 

 

Driving it was fine. It handled well although if it was a true spaceship, I wouldn’t have to steer at all. I could just sit back with my hands clasped behind my head and let robotics take charge. But, no, I had to steer and read road signs and everything. Talk about coming down to earth.

The only real snafu came when I needed to put gasoline into it. I pulled up to the pump and quickly realized that I had no idea how to open the gas tank cover. I searched the massive dashboard, even getting on my hands and knees to look beneath for some sort of pictogrammic hint but none could I find. The trunk popped open, the windshield wipers waved, the alarm blared but no gas tank cover opened.

I got in and out of the car a couple of times, circling it for some clue, as well as hunting around the inside over and over again. This must have gone on for a good five minutes if not ten before the solution was discovered. One had to merely press on the gas tank cover and it popped open. Whoodathunkit?

The tactic was akin to fixing the picture on a teevee back in the old days—whacking the side of it with your hand.

The future—you can have it…and you’re probably going to get it.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Even More Back Funny Pages

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No Blaise: Jay-Z’s Favorite Post!

October 1st, 2014

No Blaise can’t post today cause she has to study for a big test. So we asked Jay Z, a huge fan of this blog, to select his favorite blast from No B’s past. Here’s his selection…

 

Although I stayed pretty much completely out of the political process this year. Yes, I voted. But that’s about it. Just voting during a presidential election year isn’t something I’d yet experienced, as I spent much of the ’08 cycle running at full speed. Usually half asleep. Or fully asleep, but somehow still standing.

I went from canvassing and volunteering for Obama, to basically devoting all my time to his campaign, to working on the Presidential Inaugural Committee for two months in Washington D.C.

I pretty much spent those two months not sleeping at all. In fact, during the inauguration itself I fell asleep both in a bathroom (by accident) for an hour, and then standing up later watching him speak finally.

ZzZzZzZz

Watching Barack Obama get re-elected last night (thank the mother fucking lord) brought me back to memories of exactly where I was that time four years earlier: Drunk off my ass laying on the floor crying tears of joy in the conference room at the Sheraton Hotel in Iowa City, IA.

Here are pics from my time with BO in ’08:

Barack

Being touristy @ the Washington Monument

Sea of people

Friends ‘n me at the National Mall

Snipers on the tops of buildings

Inauguration crowd. Most likely at an ungodly hour like 6am

Barack & Michelle

Hello, Mr. President

I also got to attend some of the Presidential Balls and got to see some real good performances:

Kanye West

Arcade Fire

and, of course…

Jay-Z

 

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